As your healthcare provider, it is our medical obligation to provide you with the current treatment options available. Over the past decade, the medical field has benefitted from research endeavors that have given way to the new and exciting field of regenerative medicine. This field focuses on the use of natural human cells to aid in the repair of damaged tissues such as bone, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, utilizes a high concentration of platelets to help heal damaged tissue in the body. Typical conditions treated are chronic tendon injuries, acute ligament and muscle injuries, and cartilage damage (osteoarthritis).
What is platelet-rich plasma (PRP)?
Human blood contains solid components including red cells, white cells, and platelets. The largest component of blood is a liquid called plasma. The red and white cells, as well as platelets, are suspended in the plasma. The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the natural healing of injuries. PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets — and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater than usual.
How is PRP created?
To create a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from the patient. The platelets are then separated from the other blood cells by being spun in a centrifuge for about 15 minutes. The different blood contents separate out from the centrifuge process due to their different densities. The platelet layer can be removed and placed in a syringe at a high concentration for injection therapy.
Will my body reject PRP?
Platelet-rich plasma is a safe therapy. No major adverse side effects have been reported. Local reaction to the injection is possible but usually mild and self-limiting. Since your own platelets are used in the injection procedure, there is little chance of rejection.
Does this treatment regrow lost or damaged cartilage?
No. The treatment’s successful effect as with all regenerative cellular therapy is to decrease inflammatory mediators, slowing the enzymes that cause cartilage decay, promoting the production of healthy joint fluid and as many other positive effects on the joint as possible. Cartilage repair has been shown to occur in a very small degree and is not the primary goal of treatment.
How many treatments are needed?
In general, we start with one injection and follow your clinical response. If necessary, more injections can be utilized if clinically required.
When can patients return to normal daily activities?
Patients receiving an injection of platelet-rich plasma are to abstain from physical labor, high impact exercise or full sports activities for 6 weeks in order to give the tissue reparative process optimal time to heal. Patients are encouraged to engage in light, low impact, aerobic exercise, such as walking, stationary biking, or swimming.
What patients are optimal candidates for regenerative-orthobiologic cellular therapies?
The optimal patients do not have any joint deformity or instability. Optimal patients are in generally good nutritional and physical shape and do not smoke cigarettes. Ideally, these candidates prefer to use their own body’s regenerative potential as an option to possibly delay or avoid invasive surgical procedures.
Will my insurance cover the procedure?
While PRP has been used for years to supplement a variety of orthopedic procedures in surgery, their application as a standalone orthopedic procedure is relatively new. Research in this field is still inconclusive. Long term outcome data does not exist. Because of this, insurance companies will not yet cover these procedures.
What is the cost of the treatment?
The cost of platelet-rich plasma therapy has been set at fair market value. Please discuss with your healthcare provider for further pricing details.
Speak to your healthcare provider to determine if platelet-rich plasma may be an option for you.